The brave knight rescued the magician's daughter, and returned her home as he promised. As they approached the wizard's tower, however, he became quite cautious about the strange humanoids that now stalked the grounds. There was something different about them - they twitched like predators catching scent of prey.
"Fear not," she whispered at the visor of his helm. "You knew my father was a powerful wizard, and now you know he dabbles in Necromancy as well. His servants do not retire upon their deaths. You have my word that he is a good man, and that they willingly gave their bodies in the name of Alchemy."
The blood-soaked things had spotted them now, and began to race forward. The mighty steed beneath the knight and damsel, long since accustomed to the sounds of battle, began to panic.
"My dear," said the knight as he struggled to control his terrified warhorse, "These are not your father's zombies!"
The Rage Zombie is the frenzied blood-dripping fiend popularized by 28 Days Later and other recent Zombie films. They run as fast as men, retain a predatorial cunning, and can spread their curse instantly by way of an infectious bite. It's not even clear if they're truly zombies or not. They might be some other form of undead such as a Ghoul or mutated Vampire. More than likely, they're "just" mortal humans infected with a disease that causes barbarous insanity and drives it's victims to spread the infection to others.
Because they are fast-moving and vectors for a quick-spreading disease, the Zombie Apocalypse they bring about is likely to spread into a Global Pandemic. Only impassable barriers and desperate tactics have a chance of stopping the spread of disease. Don't even trust the ocean to be a barrier - all it takes is one ignorant ship to sail too close to infected shores. That vessel could later wash up anywhere, and spread the infection to lands that had previously avoided it. Smart governments will ground all flights, scuttle ships, and respond to infestations with firebombing or even nukes.
There are a couple benefits to Rage Zombies being more human. They're more succeptable to wounds than most zombies, and may be incapacitated by injuries Romero Zombies would ignore. You don't have to aim for the head, and going full auto isn't completely useless (though it still wastes precious ammo, and stricter firing discipline is more likely to result in all the zombies going down before they get to melee range). Their bodies are still alive, and they need resources such as food (and maybe water), so you might be able to outlast them. They might even feel pain. Those vulnerabilities, though, are more than compensated for by their faster movement, more frenzied attacks, and the possibility that the The Virus will be spread by blood-splatter even if you aren't bit. God forbid the virus jump-species or go airborne.
These things play for keeps, you should too.
Game and Story Use
- Since you don't need a Headshot or Critical Hit to kill them, Rage Zombies may be more functional than Romero Zombies in a game that uses fairly light Combat Mechanics. However, the extremely volatile and infectious nature of the Rage infection means the GM should take care in introducing such creatures. One mistake on the part of the PCs could result in a TPK or rapidly expanding Zombie Apocalypse.
- Once compromise to minimize risk that your Monster of the Week turns into The End Of The World As We Know It would be to have fast-moving zombies with a slow-acting virus. Only those who escape with a minor injury spread the disease. Most victims are torn-apart before they turn.
- Mixing Romero and Rage zombies as two different strains of the same virus could really mess with the players expectations. Introduce the Romero's first. After the PCs have fought them for a while, the radio announces a cure has been found, and is being distributed in a nearby city. By the time the players complete the trek to that city, the virus has mutated, and they're walking into a Rage nest.
- Of course, only a total bastard GM would do something like that. Just saying.
- Or reverse that order. First there is an explosion of living Rage zombies, and they quickly overwhelm most resistance. But when they begin to die from starvation, they are converted into normal undead Romero zombies - thus ensuring that there are plenty of them…